Monthly Archives: December 2018

Cleaning Up 2018

In Japan we have a tradition at the end of the year where we do a major cleaning! 🧽 🧼 🧹 It’s called ōsōji (大掃除), it’s my favorite holiday and it feels sooooo good!! And this weekend is that weekend!!

But to modernize my effort, I’ve decided to clean not just my house, but my phone 📱 and all social networking apps/sites, removing people who I didn’t know, people I haven’t talked to for 10+ years, and people who I see out but never speak to (and they never speak to me).

Then I deleted every single text, call history, and voicemail. I went through all my email and deleted all the mail that had no significance to me. Went through google docs and google drive and deleted insignificant stuff. Deleted pics on my phone. LOTS of pics (mostly of food…)

But hear me out… I didn’t do it because I’m mad or depressed. I did it because, like cleaning the house, sometimes we gotta take some time to clean our soul as well. What and who was I holding onto in my life and why? Was I living intentionally or just living passively? Was I accumulating junk or precious jewels?

I saw that I was holding on to hopes, I was holding onto dead and painful memories, and I was holding onto “what if’s” and “maybe’s”. I was holding onto pretentious friendships with people who say we’re friends but they don’t give a f* about me. Which is totally fine, but why am I holding space for any of that in my life?

It’s time to start over. Completely. For 2019, I’m going in with a big open heart and open mind, but I’m not living passively anymore.

#ōsōji #2019

Your Legacy

There’s a theory- well, it’s actually a “law” (The Law of Thermodynamics, to be precise)- that claims energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The basic idea is that energy can only be transferred or transformed from one thing to another.

You’re probably thinking “WTH does this have to do with my legacy?“. Well, assuming this “law” is true, this means that the energy in and around us is always there. There isn’t ever a time or place with “no energy”. The energy is either neutral (conserved), positive, or negative. I’m definitely not a physicist, and for all I know what I’m saying is total nonsense… but if I’m happy I’m emitting positive energy. If I’m pissed, I am emitting negative energy. And there are sometimes when I’m just not happy or pissed, but I’m just kinda “there” (i.e., “neutral”).

When I’m mad, my “energy” or “vibes” tend to pour over into others around me. People can sense my mood. When I’m full of joy, people tend to reap the benefits of my joyful mood. We have the potential power to take our “energy” and affect those around us in a positive or negative way.

And THIS is where your legacy comes into play.

In thinking about our short time here on Earth, we don’t have a lot to leave behind. I know some people may think that living until 100 seems like a long time, but it really isn’t. We are born, we go through this awkward phase of learning how to walk, talk, and get along with others, and for most of us, we actually die still trying (or not trying…who knows…)

But the point is, in this short time, the only thing we think we leave behind is the memory of who we are and what we contributed to the world while we were alive, but memories can only go so far. On the other hand, if energy can neither be created nor destroyed, then what happens with our energy when we’re gone?

All the times we bestowed grace and love on those that carried negative energy… all those times, instead of adding to the fire of hate, we diluted the flames with kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and love (all of these towards ourselves and others)…

Feeling horrible sometimes is inevitable. Loss and pain (physical or emotional) is inevitable in life and it’s only natural to feel what we feel. But I don’t think that our feelings are “the energy”. The energy that is transferred and transformed by us and through us is in how we respond and process those feelings.

The key is not to turn off our humanness, our feelings, emotions, but rather take a step back, maybe even take a few breaths (or more) and really consider what kind of energy we are putting out there.

Even if we do nothing, energy, by the law of nature, will naturally spread out. It’s like a hot pot that has been removed from the stove: eventually it’s going to cool down. The energy spreads out of the pot and into the air.

So here I am thinking, we have 3 choices: we spew out negative energy, positive energy, or somehow try to find a way to conserve our energy or at least keep it neutral, because it’s here to stay, and it’s indestructible.

This, I believe, is where your legacy is. It can’t be seen with our eyes, and sometimes it isn’t directly or automatically felt, but if the law is true, I believe we are always leaving our mark and establishing an unforgettable legacy.

Make it a good one.

legacy

(Photo found on trinity Roselle foundation; no copyright infringement intended)

One in the Same

If we were to classify all the suffering in the world, I bet it could likely all fall into one (or more) of only a handful of categories:

* Things didn’t work out the way I hoped or expected/Things aren’t going the way I wanted them to.
* Someone said or did something I didn’t like.
* Something someone did made me feel threatened/offended/hurt.
* I feel lonely/rejected/neglected/abandoned.
* I don’t feel connected to others/People don’t understand me.
* I’m grieving the loss of someone.

There’s probably a few more, but for the most part, in a modern world, I think all our suffering could generally (albeit broadly) fit into one of the above six categories. But what I also came to realize is that not only is our suffering one in the same, but so is our response to it.

If we were to then categorize how we respond to our suffering, the grandiosity in our response is almost entirely based off the amount of control we think we actually have in any given situation, which is more often than not, overly miscalculated.

In other words, the more control we think we have, the more extreme our response. The less control we think we have, the less extreme our response.
For example (and these categories are far more extensive):
* I can change their mind or teach them to do what I want them to do or behave they way I want them to behave so that I don’t have to feel like this anymore.
* If I do x, then I can make this situation change towards my liking so that I don’t have to feel like this anymore.
* If I fill my life/mind//body/etc. with x, y, z, I won’t have to feel like this anymore.

Perhaps the extent of the damage we cause in trying to relieve ourselves from our perceived suffering can be minimized when we finally accept and realize that we cannot control others, and in almost all other cases of suffering, there isn’t much we can do about shit that didn’t go the way we wanted it to. Just like the joy that comes in and out of our life, suffering is simply a part of that: the opposite side of the spectrum. Without one you can’t have the other, and as much as we like to delude ourselves into thinking the opposite, there is not one single person on Earth that is immune from suffering.

In the above cases, we see that we are trying to control external circumstances, which can sometimes be seen as “working” until we realize it wasn’t a long term viable solution, but rather a short-lived distraction to get us by until we can find another one. We’re constantly on the search for an escape from suffering or discomfort. This feels like a constant war with the world, which has got to feel like a truly crappy way to live.

Eventually, we come to realize that the only thing we will ever have control over is our attitude and how we face suffering and discomfort. It won’t make reality any different than what it is, but at least you are no longer going to war with reality. You stop fighting others because you realize we are all one in the same. You become allies with Life. You come to understand your fellow humans a little better. And life gets just a little bit easier, because you get just a little bit better at dealing with it.

Growing Up and Being a Mature Person

Some may argue that maturity comes with age. Some argue it comes with experience. I don’t know which one is right, but maybe it’s both. What I have learned at my ripe age, is that maturity isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being real. It’s about being honest, and it’s about not letting the desire for pleasure or fear of pain be the motivation for the decisions we make in our life.

Immature people speak and behave based on their current emotions and personal feelings. This behavior is based on their understanding of rules, trade-offs, and the social order around them.

For an immature person, everything is seen as a trade-off. These children (and a shocking number of adults) approach life as an endless series of bargains. I will do what my boss says so I can get money. I will call my mother so I don’t get yelled at. I will do my homework so I don’t fuck up my future. I will lie and pretend to be nice so I don’t have to deal with conflict.

Nothing is done for its own sake. Everything is a calculated trade-off, usually made out of fear of the negative repercussions.

You can’t live your life this way, otherwise, you’re never actually living your life. You’re merely living out an aggregation of the desires of the people around you. In a sense, you’re a slave. To become a mature and emotionally healthy individual, you gotta break out of this bargaining and calculating way of thinking, and realize the higher guiding principles.

“Ideally, after some time, we will begin to realize that the world cannot always be bargained with, nor should we subject every aspect of our life to a series of transactions. You don’t want to bargain with your father for love, or your friends for companionship, or your boss for respect. Why? Because feeling like you have to manipulate people into loving or respecting you feels shitty. It undermines the whole project. If you have to convince someone to love you, then they don’t love you. If you have to cajole someone into respecting you, then they don’t respect you. The most precious and important things in life cannot be bargained with. To try to do so destroys them.”

You cannot manipulate happiness.

While people who navigate the world through bargaining and rules can get far in the material world, they remain crippled and alone in their emotional world. This is because transactional values create toxic relationships — relationships that are built on manipulation.

A mature adult gives without expectation, without seeking anything in return, because to do so defeats the purpose of a gift in the first place.
Life is far more complicated than simply pursuing one’s pleasure and avoiding pain.

As children grow up, they experience the shocking realization that the world does not cater to their whims, and that the only things in life of real value and meaning are achieved without conditions, and without transactions.

As a mature adult, you sit and think critically about yourself and about what you’ve chosen to care about, not through word, but through deed.

What level of maturity are you actually operating on?

Sit down, get honest with yourself, and really pick apart whether or not your interpretations of your actions actually make sense. Are you just deluding yourself? Do your actions reflect what you think is important? If not, where is the disconnect?

Happiness and health come when there is no disconnect with your virtues and your thoughts and behaviors.

Don’t get me wrong: The problem is not you. The problem is what you’re choosing to value, how you’re choosing to see the world and the way in which it operates.
You didn’t fuck up because you caused pain. You fucked up because you caused pain for bad reasons.

Sometimes we think we are the mature ones, so we go around trying to make others “mature like us”. But you can’t go from a child to an adult without being an adolescent in between.

Maturity happens when we realize that it’s better to suffer for the right reasons than to feel pleasure for the wrong reasons. Adulthood occurs when we realize that it’s better to love fully and unconditionally and lose, than to never know what it means to really love, and what LOVE is really about.

Eventually you learn what pain is worthwhile, and what pain is just kicking you further from inner peace and joy. Choose wisely.

grow up

(NOTE: This is a summary and interpretation of one of my all-time favorite authors, Mark Manson, in his article “How to Grow the Fuck Up: A Guide to Humans”; a VERY long, but VERY WORTH TAKING THE TIME TO READ piece I absolutely LOVE.)

You Are “The One” You’ve Been Looking For

Through the hard times, we often rely on our friends and family to help us through. They serve as our emotional support and encourage us, lift our spirits, motivate us and give us affirmations that we are good enough and we can do it. They remind us of our worth, our value, and our strength. They give us strength too. Sometimes our significant other does that for us as well.

But what if no one is around us? What if we don’t have friends or family around us?

                                                    ******    What if we are alone?     ******

There are times, I believe, in all our lives, when we look around us in our darkest moments and realize that we are, in fact, alone. Most of us, in an effort to “get by”, would fill our time with distractions like social media, TV, or other hobbies and activities –  anything to not feel alone. The distractions make our “alone time” pass by so it doesn’t feel so lonely.

Recently I was faced with a significant loss that threw me into an unexpected depression. I was devastated. I had my children around most the time, work, dogs to care for, a house to clean, and of course, dancing, writing, golf, yoga, and a ton of other activities as my hobby to keep me busy. But when the children weren’t around, and I finished my work, I was again faced with the feeling of being alone.

But this time it was different. Something inside of me was curious as to what it would feel like to befriend myself in my moment of sadness. So I started talking to myself. Not out loud sounding like a crazy person, and not without intention, but simply just asking myself, almost like an inquiry, questions like, “how are you feeling right now?”, “why do you feel that way?”, and “what do you wanna do?”

Being alone with myself in those moments, really digging into what it was I was feeling, needing, desiring, believing, thinking, and deceiving myself about, helped me understand myself a bit more.

It was as if I was getting to know a new friend. You see, when we make new friends, we initially ask them lots of questions with the intention of getting to know them. We’re curious as to who they are, and what they think. Ideally, the more time we spend with them, the more we like them; the more time we want to spend with them, and the more we find we enjoy their company.

My goal was just that: To spend more time with myself until I really liked being in my own company. But this “time” wasn’t the large amounts of time I already had driving my 2-hour (one way) commute to work, nor the 20-minute dog walks (twice per day), nor the 30-minute jogs; it had to be time that I deliberately and intentionally set aside to sit alone, with myself, without any distractions, and just BE present.

In my dark and lonely moments, I leaned into the pain, embraced it, and desperately tried to make friends with it. Who are you? What are you trying to tell me? What am I not hearing? What are you afraid of? Why are you intent on believing that? What’s your ultimate purpose in all of this? OK then, if you’re intent on being here for a while, let’s at least become good friends!!

I asked myself questions, I hugged myself, I pat my own head. I tried to think, “if my best friend were going through this, or feeling this way, what would I say to her or do for her to help her feel better, or more loved, or at peace?” And so for the next two months, I set aside 15-30 minutes every day to just sit with myself, alone, and get to know “me”. I was determined to learn how to be a good friend…No… a BEST FRIEND…to myself.

But… as with any relationship, it required that I be completely honest and vulnerable as well. Being honest with myself was hard. I found myself making excuses for my behavior or thoughts. I found myself trying to blame others, make them the “bad guy” and even deceive myself into believing one thing, as opposed to reality. I found myself justifying my behavior.

Slowly, layers of myself began to come off and I saw things I absolutely hated about myself. But I also saw things I loved about myself.

While it’s only been a short romance, I think I’ve finally found “the one”, and that person was me. The person that desired to be loved, accepted, heard, understood, and embraced fully was ME this whole time.

There’s something magical that happens with being alone. It’s a magic you can only find through experience. And it’s an experience that leaves you feeling completely surrounded by unconditional love, strength, motivation, and contentment. It melts away your insecurities and fills you with joy and confidence.

Suddenly, all the needs and attachments we place on others disappears, because we know we have all we need and want within ourselves. We finally see others in our lives as simply icing on the cake, rather than the vital ingredients that we’re made of. We see ourselves as whole and complete AS IS. We come to realize that everything we need is right here, within us, right NOW.

Everything, right now, is perfect, just as it is. We take it one day at a time. And because we are “the one” we’ve been searching for all this time, the entrance of new people in our lives is simply an opportunity to love, and the loss of people in our lives is simply a reminder of how much we have loved. We move forward, courageously, bravely, and confidently, continuing to love, because we realize that LOVE is who we are. It was never something we needed to get or receive from another person. It is who we ARE and who we will always BE. And there is nothing greater or more fulfilling then feeling free to be who we really are.

youare the one

I am Joy

I like who I am. I like where I am in life. I like who I have become, and where I came from.

I’m proud of myself and all my accomplishments. I am my own best friend and number one fan. I did it. Instead of running away or numbing myself with distractions and pointless relationships, I leaned into the pain and found my strength. I overcame so much. It was a constant battle between body, mind, and soul, but when we finally started working together, as a result I finally met myself. I know who I am, at my core. And I love me!!

I have sat with myself for long periods of time, and I have gotten to know myself. I have spent much time alone. I have befriended myself and I can finally say I love myself. I enjoy being in my own company. I enjoy spending time alone, and yet I never feel alone.

I feel loved, supported, and truly cared for. I am my own source of motivation and strength. I feel seen, heard, and understood. I feel safe. I feel like my own hero.

And yet my arms, mind, and heart remain open. I welcome those that come into my life and I wish only peace and joy for those that choose to leave.

Every day is a miracle, and one in which I have absolute and complete control over how I choose to live and behave in. I can choose love or I can chose behaviors that are not reflective of love. I choose love over, and over, and over again.

I am love.

I am the love that is indestructible. I am the love that changes the world. I am the love that brings peace to the heart and soul. I am content.

I am brave. I am resilient. I am strong. And my love never dims. Never quits. Never gives up. My light never fades. I am a peaceful warrior of light and love. I bring hope to this world.

My purpose is fulfilled every day as I live one day at a time, one moment at a time, striving to show up as the best version of myself.

I listen to my intuition and am guided by source. This is love and I chose it in every moment of every day.

When my soul is weary I rest. When I am tired I ask for help. I am loved, and I love.

I am JOY.

Embracing the Suck

Only when we admit we do not know, can we open up the possibility of truly Knowing.

This post comes from a very vulnerable place. I’ve recently experienced a significant loss in my life that I have never experienced before, and it hurts. I’m 6 weeks into the loss and I’m showing no sign of improvement. The pain won’t go away. My heart is heavy. My tears are unending. I’m feeling…enormous grief and depression and I can’t shake it. I’m so sad…

I thought I had the tools to deal with this kind of loss. I used every tool in my toolbox.

  • talked to therapist
  • talked to sponsor
  • talked to friends
  • talked to God (pray)
  • meditated
  • cry it out
  • drink it off
  • distraction (social media)
  • expand my social circle (go out and make new friends)
  • do things that inspire me
  • do things that uplift me
  • do things that challenge me
  • take a hot bath
  • write / journal / blog
  • read inspirational books
  • watch funny  movies
  • listen to music that brings me joy / inspires me
  • listen to music that makes me want to dance
  • take myself out on dates
  • make new friends / meet new people
  • make myself a wonderfully delicious meal
  • smudge (yeah, smudge) my house with sage to remove negative energies
  • decorate the house with “magical crystals”
  • decorate myself with “magical crystals”
  • bury myself in work
  • volunteer around my community
  • donate stuff I don’t need or use
  • be present
  • take the kids out and have fun
  • quality time with people I love
  • drink lots of water (lots and LOTS of water).
  • take my vitamins
  • dance!
  • learn something new (guitar!)
  • practice gratitude
  • play piano
  • sing!
  • sleep… lots and lots of sleep.
  • drink delicious hot tea…
  • go running (get those endorphins up!!)
  • keep up on my exercise! (taking good care of my body)
  • affirmations…
  • surrender it all (give it to God).
  • say “hello” to the feelings; greet them, embrace them, and accept them.
  • make direct amends
  • sit in the suck…
  • breathe it all in…
  • Dig deep and find the “blesson” (blessing + lesson) in all of it.
  • reflect and learn from my mistakes
  • listen to advice (asked for or not) and take it!
  • got down on my hands and knees with snot running out of my nose and tears swelling my eyes begging God to remove this pain from my life…
  • Listen to Binaural Beats
  • Hypnosis and listening to subliminal messaging to “get over it”
  • Shockingly cold showers to “snap me out of it”.
  • Punish myself
  • Ruminate on where I could have done better
  • Blame the other person for where they failed..
  • Understand “it could be worse”
  • Forgive.
  • Offer compassion.

The list goes on…

I tried everything. Six weeks in and my sadness and grief refuses to leave me. I was left with only one conclusion: Embrace the Suck.

This sucks. It’s supposed to suck. And it will suck in all its glorious suckiness. No amount of my saying how much it sucks will make it less suckier. It just sucks. Plain and simple. No, it’s not plain, and it’s not simple. It’s horrible. I hate it. And it will continue to be horrible…until… it isn’t.

And that hope; that faith that one day it won’t suck anymore… that’s what somehow gets me through.

embrace the suck

The Magic of Faith & Showing Up As Our Best Version

There’s a fascinating magic that happens when we trust the Universe. This magic works best when we place our energy onto showing up in every moment as the best version of ourselves. When we diligently commit to this (even when were crushed, beat, and have zero hope or motivation) we start to see an inspiring progress in our mind, bodies, and souls, that just makes us feel good about who we are and what we’ve become. Each time we do this, our heart muscles grow stronger, making each new challenge in life a little less overwhelming or scary.

This grace lovingly prepares us for what’s to come. Many of us have been broken and bruised so badly that we have zero faith in the beginning; all we have is this strong desire to feel better, and sometimes it is only this desperation that gets us to actually do the work. At least that’s how it worked for me.

After trying various methods of “life management” including some truly shameful and horrendous techniques like trying to manipulate, lie to, or control other people, the Universe had a special gift for me: crush that belief by taking everything away until I was completely lost, alone, and powerless. You see, it turns out, people don’t like being manipulated, lied to, or controlled by anyone. People like being loved, accepted, and valued. It took me way too long to figure that out…

Being a control freak was all I knew. It was the tool I used to protect myself from abuse and emotional traumas as a child. Giving up this sense of power felt like a threat to my existence. Only now can I laughingly admit that I used to think that I knew what was best for myself (and others). But as I slowly let go and surrendered to the Universe, I was pleasantly surprised at how my life unfolded in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined, and in so many positive ways. Life was actually starting to feel “free” and lighter for the first time; and that required letting go of my desire to control the outcome.

Ironically, the only way to get this faith, is by taking that one step forward. One step at a time. One day at a time. Eventually, we make a little progress, which builds upon our faith: faith that we can trust the Universe, and faith that without grasping and clinging and attaching to our need to control the outcome of our inevitably changing, uncertain life, everything is going to work out just fine.

As we courageously move forward, our faith becomes equivalent to unwavering confidence, and this confidence is priceless. What we come to see is that focusing on just showing up as the best version of ourselves in every moment and trusting the Universe  life doesn’t get better; WE get better at living it.

Of course when we are in a state of anxiety, or worry, we cannot see or think clearly. But when we remain focused on just being and doing the best we can in each moment, we begin to see more clearly. We think more clearly. But we never forget that we will always have more to learn, and that our vision is never going to be 100%. We begin to love more boldly. We are braver and more courageous. We become curious about these mysterious gifts (i.e., learning opportunities). We have unwavering faith and confidence in ourselves and our ability to overcome and pull through.

95202ead7c3effc902c6533bda63e5db

We begin to understand that it’s about being grateful for, and finding meaning in ALL of it. We know very well that life is NOT about being perfect. We learn to embrace and love ourselves completely, and in turn we learn to embrace and love others completely as well. Through this new-found clarity and love, we understand and trust that everything in our life is unfolding exactly as it is meant to be, exactly when it is meant to be.

This brings a sense of calmness and peace, even when our life is inevitably experiencing ups and downs, and because of this faith and peace, we have so much more energy to put into the more important things in life, like truly loving another person, and being of service, helping others, bringing hope, joy, and just living in the moment, because that is the only thing we actually have control over: how we are living right now in this moment. So make this moment a good one.